Thursday, December 30, 2010

You WILL use Y as a consonant, or else!

I read recently that the use of Y as a consonant goes back to medieval French when it was forcibly imported to England with the Norman Conquest of AD 1066.

Forcibly imported consonants... language is so interesting.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Poetry: Robert Burns, Allen Ginsberg, Gilligan's Island and smelling the roses

I've been enjoying reading and listening to poetry lately. I also enjoy the fact that, these days, one can sometimes download poetry the same way one downloads songs... or find an audio or video file for free online of a poet reading his or her own work, or someone else reading it if the poet lived too long ago for such technologies.

I downloaded Gordon Kennedy's reading of To A Mouse, by Robert Burns, from iTunes the other day and have listened to it quite obsessively ever since. I have also tormented my family with attempted recitations of:

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!


There's actually a helpful web page that 'translates' some of the dialect in the full Burns poem. If interested, here's the link:

I also picked up Ballistics, by Billy Collins, last weekend. And downloaded the audio recording: Dueling Anthologists Billy Collins and Garrison Keillor at the 92nd Street Y.

All that reminded me tonight about the poem that Allen Ginsberg wrote for me when I was seven years old. It was at a fund raising event, I believe. And, at that time, I did not even really understand much about who Allen Ginsberg was, let alone how cool it would be to have this poem years later. Thank goodness my mother held onto it for me. For surely, if it had been left in my hands as a child, I might have lost it.

I doubt you'll be seeing this one in any anthologies soon, but still...

In case you can't read the poem in this tiny image (which is, if I'm not wrong, in Ginsberg's handwriting), it goes:

You eat macaroni!
You eat donuts!
Do you eat the donut holes?
You watch Superman!
You visit Gilligan's island?
You sing roll & Rock!
You smell roses!
You touch your mom!
You think of going to

Allen Ginsberg
July 6,'77

Looking at the handwriting, I'm still not entirely certain of that very last line, but I can't figure out what else it might say.

Well. You now know how poet Allen Ginsberg interpreted seven-year-old Ingrid after a brief conversation...

...and to think I am still fascinated with castaways, superheroes, sweet things, and comforts.

It's all poetry to me!